Leading women of Malayalam films show the way.

‘Women in Cinema Collective’ meets CM and demands end to gender discrimination in film industry.

In most films, they are just pretty faces and pretty bodies seen besides heroes as they sing, dance, fight and kill in superabundant displays of machismo, or as archetypal mothers whose lot it is to pine for their men and children. Their pain and sorrow in real life have largely gone unnoticed and unheeded. But a group of powerful women in Malayalam cinema have now come together to break that familiar mould. They have formed a collective to claim their space in the industry and assert their rights.

The ‘Women in Cinema Collective’, which includes actors, directors, editors, cinematographers, make-up artistes and costume directors, met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with a slew of demands to ensure gender justice and find recognition in an industry where discrimination is not just rampant, it allows little room for any dialogue on women’s service and pay conditions.

The collective wants internal committees to be set up in each film unit and other workplaces under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, to redress complaints related to sexual harassment, provision of benefits such as maternity leave, a welfare fund for those who cannot work owing to health problems, insurance and Employees’ Provident Fund, and facilities as basic as toilets for women on film sets.

The collective also sought reservation for women in government-run film production establishments. “It is happening not only in Kerala, it is happening the world over — women are finding their voice,” said editor Beena Paul Venugopal, among the founders of the collective along with actors Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal, Parvathy, Sajitha Madhathil and Remya Nambeesan, filmmakers Vidhu Vincent, Anjali Menon and Asha Achi Joseph, writer Deedi Damodaran and cinematographer Fauzia Fathima.

Shortly after their meeting with the CM, Mr. Vijayan put up a Facebook post saying a committee would be constituted to look into the problems faced by women in the film industry.


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